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CNN IN THE MONEY
Federal Government To Pull Funding For Amtrak; Interview with Pat Broeski
Aired February 27, 2005 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital. This is IN THE MONEY.
JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's program:
More than an ocean apart: President Bush just round up a fence mepeding tour in Europe. See how money, power, and culture are putting pressure on some old alliances.
Plus, the kick that kicks back: From farm towns to big cities, methamphetamine is big business. We'll look at the rise of that drug and the risks it carries. And they are many.
Plus hard going: Taking Amtrak isn't cheap, but all of the cash can't seem to keep the company out of trouble. See why the train network is not turning a profit.
Joing me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans: CNN correspondent, Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large, Andy Serwer.
So it's Oscar night, later tonight. I'll be rearranging my sock drawer during those hours. But, it -- you know, it's interesting to point out that the pictures nominated for "Best Movie" this year, collectively grossed $40 million less than any comparable group of best picture nominees in the last decade. So, it'll be interesting to see what kind of ratings this thing turns out, because apparently a lot of people weren't too interested in the films.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yeah, it wasn't a really good year for movies, I mean, there's no question about that. I thought the best movie was "The Incredibles," and of course, it's not even nominated for "Best Picture."
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not, "Best Animated."
SERWER: Yeah well, that's right. That's a ghettoized version of "Best Picture." The whole show is so boring. I got to agree with you. You need any help with the sock drawer? How about this, you know, "Best Key Grip" in a foreign language film, you know, all these categories, ridiculous. And the red carpet interviews. Does that dress say happy? You know, I mean, it's just ludicrous. You know, who would watch that stuff? I really won't watch.
CAFFERTY: Susan would.
SERWER: Oh I know. Oh, tell us. Tell us what you're doing.
LISOVICZ: OK, I'm going to borrow the line from Soledad, which is I'm going to wearing my best "fla-elle" nightgown.
SERWER: I think that was Darren. That was Darren.
LISOVICZ: Darren, OK. Because I love watching it. I'm a big movie buff. And frankly, I think it is going to be exciting, Chris Rock...
LISOVICZ: The emcee. Come on, they even have a delay on it because they're a little worried about, you know, with the FCC crackdown and so on, and also, it's not a given as to which picture, like last year, "Lord of the Rings" swept everything, and this year, you really don't know, will it be the "Aviator," will it be "Million Dollar Baby." So, you know, there's...
SERWER: They haven't figured out who's paid off whom, yet, you mean?
LISOVICZ: Yeah, who's taking who...
SERWER: Sorry, kind of cynical about the process.
LISOVICZ: Miramax -- I'm not sure if Miramax is really involved this year.
CAFFERTY: I'll be deep in my argyles during that period of time.
President Bush, speaking of Oscar-worthy performances, he's been out trying to patch things up with Europe this week. The gap, though, between the United States and its old allies isn't just a diplomatic issue, and it's about more than a disagreement over the war in Iraq, too. Dig deeper in things like economics, politics, and culture come into play. For a look at how the U.S. and Europe grew so far apart, we're joined now by Greg Valliere. He's a political economist and chief strategist at the Stanford Washington Research Group.
Greg, it's nice to see you as always.
GREG VALLIERE, STANFORD WASHINGTON RESEARCH GROUP: Great to see you, Jack.
CAFFERTY: What happened, here? Coming out of World War II we were the biggest mutual admiration society mankind had ever known. NATO and the Western European Allies joined with the United States overthrew the axis. We stood by them until the Cold War ended and the iron curtain came down. Now we can't stand each other. What's going on? VALLIERE: I think a lot of it is really cultural. You look at how religious a country the U.S. is. Over 50 percent of the people in Western Europe never to g to church, so I think a lot of it is mutual suspicion on the part of both countries, because of religious and cultural issues.
LISOVICZ: OK, so, and that's been simmering for a long time, certainly the war in Iraq took it over the top. But you have had this so-called charm offensive, Greg.
LISOVICZ: You have Condoleezza Rice first, doing some nice photo ops and then you have the president, how successful was it, or was it just really on the surface making nicy-nice?
VALLIERE: I think, Susan, stylistically and substantively, it was pretty important. I think that leaders like Chirac realized that while they don't like Bush and his policies, we have to do business. And in that regard, the one thing that surprised me on this visit is that the biggest issue of all, in my opinion, for Western Europe is the U.S. dollar, which is killing Europe's ability to export and that subject didn't really come up.
SERWER: I want to ask a -- follow up a little bit on that, Greg, about the economic tensions between the United States and Europe. You talked about the dollar. There's also immigration, the stagnant economies. Is that such a backburner issue at this point, given the political situation that it's not even going to come to the fore?
VALLIERE: I'm surprised that it hasn't, Andy. I think that it should. Western Europe is still really teetering on the edge of another recession. Their budget deficits are far bigger than ours. Ours are coming down, theirs are getting higher. So you would think that economic issues would be dominant. There is one other factor, very quickly I'd throw, that I think makes Western Europe a little different right now, and that's demographic, that you have a population that essentially is contracting the birth rate of native Western Europeans is going down. Only one part of western European society has a birth rate that's growing and that's Muslim.
CAFFERTY: Greg, you mentioned the declining dollar. It's not just the United States that's responsible for the decline of the dollar, although our deficits and trade imbalances certainly have a lot to do with it. But, aren't there things that the Western European countries, particularly old Western Europe, could be doing to stimulate their own economies? Some of the Eastern European countries have adopted pro-Western economic ideas and...
CAFFERTY: And market theories, lower interest rates, capital, generate things -- ideas that will generate and spur business growth. Old Western Europe just doesn't seem too interested, somehow, in doing some of these things. Are they? VALLIERE: You're absolutely right, Jack, in terms of changing labor rules in terms of streaming regulations, even, one might argue, the European monetary authorities being, I think, still fairly restrictive. Now a lot of the problems in Western Europe are self- inflicted, in my opinion.
LISOVICZ: Well, let's talk more about that dollar. I mean, you know, the U.S. likes it. Lots of multinational companies like the fact that their goods -- that are companies based here in the U.S., that their goods sell more cheaply in Europe, and the Europeans are scooping them up. Where do you think that will play out? What do you think will happen?
VALLIERE: I think probably a further orderly decline but a modest decline. I think the major part of the dollar move is over, Susan, but I think maybe a little bit further decline -- if it became disorderly or really a rapid decline then it would get the attention of Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretary Snow. You really don't want to go there with the fed having to, perhaps, tighten even more aggressively to defend the dollar. Now, but, I think that the dollar will stay at a fairly depressed level for most of this year.
SERWER: When you talk about the friction between the United States and Europe, though, Greg, I mean, how much of this is timeless? I remember going to Europe when I was in college and the French students saying, "Oh, we hate you, you bourgeoisie American."
SERWER: By the way, can I buy your blue jeans?
SERWER: I mean, part of it, I think, it's because all of the smart people left Europe and moved to the United States over the centuries. You can make that case. I certainly have. But, it's timeless, isn't it?
VALLIERE: It's a great point and I always point out to people that when Reagan went to Berlin and said, "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall," he was derided, mocked by the condescending Western European intelligentia (SIC) and of course, the wall was torn down. So, this has gone on for decades, this view of looking down your noses at the U.S. even though Western Europe really needs the U.S.
CAFFERTY: Well, they also, apparently, make some sport out of poking fun at President Bush's theory of trying to spread democracy and freedom around the world, and yet it was pointed out by one of my beloved correspondence on "American Morning" the French didn't seem opposed to the idea of freedom when we liberated Paris about 55 years ago. So, I mean, are there just things that are never going to go away, here? Chirac's not going to like George Bush. It doesn't matter what they say to each other, same with Schroeder. Schroeder's constituency is such that politically he can't afford to be Bush's friend, at least not for real. I mean, are we just stuck in a kind of a catch-22 deal here? VALLIERE: Probably, Jack. But, I would add that a lot of the leaders in Western Europe, who are in some trouble, are the ones who have been the most hostile to the U.S., Schroeder and Chirac in particular, with the exception of Spain, where they elected a socialist, all of the more conservative leaders in Western Europe, who have supported the U.S., are in pretty good shape, right now.
CAFFERTY: Interesting. Greg we got to leave it there. It's always a pleasure, my friend. It's nice to talk to you again.
VALLIERE: Same here.
CAFFERTY: Greg Valliere, political economist, chief strategist at Stanford Washington Research Group, joing us from Washington D.C.
When we come back, the drug that can wreck a community and it has: Methamphetamines spreading from west to east and from the countryside into the big cities. See why it's bringing in major money and doing real major damage.
Also ahead, from the big house to home sweet home, with an ankle bracelet on: Martha Stewart's due to be sprung from the joint, next week. Find out where she stands witith the company she founded.
And it's like driving without having to do the driving: You'd think that America's train system would be a howling success. We'll look at why Amtrak is running out of cash and may, in fact, go belly up.
CAFFERTY: Next time you go to the drugstore to stock up on cold medicine, you better bring a picture I.D. with you. The reason is, a handful of states now have laws that limit the sale of certain decongestants. Why, you ask? Well, an ingredient in these drugs is used to make crystal meth, which is common called the "poor man's cocaine." Carol Falkowski is the director of Drug Research at a Hazelden Foundation, a drug and alcohol rehab center. She's also the author of "Dangerous Drugs."
Carol, it's nice to have you with us.
CAROL FALKOWSKI, HAZELDEN FOUNDATION: Hi.
CAFFERTY: Crystal meth has been destroying rural America for 30 years. It's absolutely laid waste to foreign towns all over Missouri and Kansas and Oklahoma. Why all of the sudden is this thing getting the attention in the big cities? It's nothing -- there's nothing new about this.
FALKOWSKI: Well, I think we've really seen a change in the past decade of getting out of the country into the cities, because of the effects of the drug itself. It's long-acting. It gives people feelings of control and power, and it gets them going, doing multitasks, you know, so they can get more things done. So, it appeals to suburban housewives who have a lot of plates to juggle. It appeals to teenagers who like the feelings of control. I mean, teenagers can't even control what they eat for dinner or what they wear, forget the car. And finding a home in the nightclub scene in a lot of gay communities and a lot of our urban areas.
SERWER: So, the pervasiveness has really become an issue at this point. I mean, it used to be very much of a rural phenomena. You hear about bathtub speed out in the countryside, but you're really seeing it taking hold in the suburbs and the cities.
FALKOWSKI: Oh, absolutely. There's hardly an urban area that is not seeing some presence of methamphetamine. In the Minneapolis Saint Paul area, for example if the people coming in to treatment for methamphetamine, 20 percent of them are under the age of 18, and it's about 10 percent of all people coming in to treatment and this is new, just in the past few years.
LISOVICZ: Carol, can we be more specific about just how long the crystal meth acts, for instance, just how many hours and what kind of symptoms are most associated with it and how does that differ from, say, other drugs that abused?
FALKOWSKI: That's a great question, you know, there are some major things that distinguish meth from other drugs that we've seen. It has a duration of action for about 10 to 12 hours. So, people are under the influence of it for that long. In addition to that, once people become addicted they go for days at a time without eating and days at a time without sleeping. They develop, because of that, very severe paranoid delusions where they think people are out to them and they're absolutely convinced people are out to get them and that's what makes methamphetamine addicts such a threat to communities, because they're a threat to public safety in the sense they are responding to things that aren't really there, and that's really what, why it doesn't take very many meth addicts to really change the safety and the landscape of a small community.
CAFFERTY: You know, the discussion we're having reminds me very much of the discussions we had about 20 years ago with the advent of something called crack cocaine. The fact that it was a better high than the regular cocaine, the increased energy, the delusional paranoia, the symptoms almost exactly the same. Crack cocaine is still all over the big cities in this country. The war on drugs, pretty much, has been ineffective. What do we do about crystal meth? I mean, it's cheap. It's easy to make. It's available. What do you to about it?
FALKOWSKI: Well, I think, ultimately we need to be looking at what drives this drug problem and that is addiction. We need to be able to make treatment available to people, treatment for methamphetamine addiction is very effective but the problem is getting people to that treatment and then once they've had treatment, getting them to supported living afterwards. If you have someone and put them in treatment for awhile and then they go back to the same community, the same group of friends, the prognosis is very poor, so we need to really, with meth addicts, extend that duration and give them supported living within communities, so they can get back on their feet again. SERWER: Carol, how is the drug made? I mean, people are familiar with marijuana, cocaine, and heroine, where those drugs come from. How is crist at meth made?
FALKOWSKI: It is made with ingredients that you can get at a hardware or a drugstore. And for maybe $200 worth of ingredients you can make enough product for yourself and your friends and also to sell to people, and you can -- it's worth about $5,000 to $10,000. So also, when we talk about what can we do, I think we need to limit the access of these precursor chemicals, because what also distinguishes meth from the other drugs is the danger and the environmental harm from these small labs, that is enormous and really costing millions of dollars to various small communities.
LISOVICZ: One of the other big concerns about methamphetamine abuse, carol, is just the rehabilitation. I've heard just, sort of, anecdotally that recovery is extremely difficult, perhaps more difficult than other types of drug abuse.
FALKOWSKI: That's right, and that's another thing that reminds me, and people in my field, of what we heard about crack cocaine. When crack first showed up, people said, well, there's no effective treatment for this. Sadly, we're hearing the same thing about methamphetamine, and it is a very long haul, but it is not the case. There is effective treatment. It's more a matter of getting people to it.
SERWER: All right, it's a sad situation. Carol Falkowski is the director of Drug Research at the Hazelton foundation. Thank you for coming on the program.
FALKOWSKI: Yeah, thank you.
SERWER: Coming up after the break, we'll bet she didn't stencil the walls: See what's in store for Martha Stewart in her old company as she gets ready to leave prison, next week.
And later, a flight of fancy: Howard Hughes thought big in his Spruce Goose was just one example. Get the story on the businessman who inspired the Oscar nominated film the "Aviator."
And, the bunnies are back: In honor of this weekend's Academy awards, we'll revisit a "Fun Site" fav!
LISOVICZ: The clock is ticking. The April 15 deadline is approaching. If you don't have the patience to wait through last year's receipts and pay stubs, it's time to hire a professional to do it for you. Here are quick tips on finding the right help.
Avoid professionals who guarantee results or claim they can get you larger refunds than other preparers. They may be more concerned with the bottom line than with the law.
Do your research. Check with the Better Business Bureau and your state's Board of Accountancy for CPA to see if any complaints have been made against the firm.
Avoid firms where your work is delegated to lower level employees. You should know who's working on your return at all times and be able to contact them should you have questions or concerns.
And finally, review your return before you sign and file. You, the taxpayer, are legally responsible for your tax return, no matter who prepares it.
Good luck, and happy filing. I'm Susan Lisovicz for "Money and Family."
LISOVICZ: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." Higher oil prices hit the markets hard this week. Colder temperature is one reason crude oil jumps over the $50 a barrel level and hit a four-month high. Oil prices are also about 50 percent higher than where they were a year ago. You'll see it in your heating bill.
Former Enron CEO Ken Lay and Chairman Jeff Skilling will finally go to trial in January of next year. Lay and Skilling will be tried in federal court, along with former Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey. Skilling and Causey each face dozen of charges of conspiracy, insider trading, and fraud. Lay is facing only a handful of charges for conspiracy and fraud.
And if you're a senior citizen, and still working -- join the club! The Labor Department says the number of employed Americans who are 75 and older grew from about 650,000 in 1994 to about one million last year. That number is expected to rise as the baby boom generation ages.
SERWER: All right, Martha Stewart gets out of prison this coming week. Some people are only interested in her upcoming starring role on a new version of the "Apprentice." But Wall Street is also looking at the future of her company, Martha Stewart Living omnimedia. Shares of the company's stock have almost tripled over the past year. And even a weak quarterly earnings report Wednesday didn't slow things down. And Martha is now battling to return as CEO. That makes Martha Stewart Living OmniMedia our "Stock of the Week."
There are a couple unassailable facts here. This woman is immensely popular. We can't get enough information about her.
LISOVICZ: She's controversial.
SERWER: She's controversial. And the other unassailable fact is the stock of her company is not connected to reality.
SERWER: It's not at all. This company -- the company reported $7 million loss in the latest quarter. There are questions about the magazine. She doesn't have a TV show. We don't know how it's going to do. It's probably going to be a hit. But I would not chase this stock at $36.
CAFFERTY: Well, plus there's a huge question, whether she'll even be able to come back and run it. There's still a pending insider trading investigation against her at the SEC and one of the things they've said is uh-uh, you're not going to be the CEO, you're not going to be the president, you're not have anything to do with the running the place. Now, technically on paper that's one thing. She's Martha Stewart and whether she's billed a senior executive editor or...
LISOVICZ: Chief creative...
CAFFERTY: There is technically some question whether or not she's even going to be involved in the corner office.
LISOVICZ: OK, the fact is, she's largest single private shareholder, so she's always going to have an impact on the company. But her comeback is so different from other comebacks. You know, say Mike Milken, who also went to prison, right? Mike Milken has redeemed himself, big philanthropist, working quietly behind the scenes. Martha Stewart, I would bet you, is going to be an enormous success because she is good at what she does, but it goes back to your original question, when you are tied to the fate of a single person, long-term, it's a problem, and it's certainly played out in that stock. It's coming back now. You know, the same day that the company reported those loss, hit a 52-week high, the stock.
SERWER: Yeah. Well, the magazine is getting long in the tooth, there's no question about that and hasn't been doing well. There's a lot of new competion out there. I think the TV show is going to be a hit. And even if the SEC cuts a deal with her, Jack, and lets her become CEO, she won't be CEO for a couple years. She has to face some sort of probation period. I believe that the show will be a hit. I mean, I really do. I mean, Donald Trump doesn't have much of a personality either and I don't think Martha does.
CAFFERTY: There say small difference, though.
CAFFERTY: Donald Trump hasn't gone off to federal prison for lying to authorities. He's not under indictment for -- I mean, what is this a role model for young people to want to grow up to be like Martha Stewart, so you can form your own company, reach a certain level of success, become arrogant to point you don't have to account to anybody in the outside world in terms of regulators and people in law enforcement. You can lie to authorities without impunity, but if you get caught, go to prison for five months, and you can come home and be under house arrest for five months LISOVICZ: And be even more successful.
CAFFERTY: Then you can be on probation. I mean, what is the message, there.
SERWER: It's pretty obvious, Jack, that she's not going to invite you over during her the five-month probation period in her home. OK?
LISOVICZ: You know, it's funny, because I went to the press conference when they unveiled that Mark Burnett new series, and I asked that very question. You know, what kind of -- she's in prison.
What's the message here?
Yes. And they said, "there are mil..." this was the response, "There are millions of Americans who feel that Martha got a raw deal."
SERWER: Well, look, this the case in point, we're going on way too long, because we're talking about Martha Stewart. We're going to have to leave this thing alone.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY:
Lines of the times: With so many people riding trains, you'd think somehting like Amtrak would be a gold mine. Find out why it can be more like a money pit.
Also ahead, mogul air: Howard Hughes made a fortune his turbulent relationship with TWA, we'll look at the business man who inspired the Oscar nominated hit, the "Aviator."
And, a price war with Chinese video pirates: Money.com's Allen Wastler will tell us how Warner Brothers is using a new trick to shake up the market in bootleg DVDs.
LISOVICZ: President Bush announced earlier this month that the White House is cutting Federal subsidies for financially strapped Amtrak later this year. The move will most likely drive Amtrak into bankruptcy. The Bush administration hopes the states will step up and create a more efficient, regionalized rail system. Will they and will it work? Here with some answers, Joseph Vranich, author of "End of the Line." He's also a former spokesperson for Amtrak. Welcome to the program.
JOSEPH VRANICH, AUTHOR, "END OF THE LINE": Hi. Glad to be here.
LISOVICZ: We're glad that you're here, too. We heard the song before. So just for the record, quickly, what are the biggest problems with Amtrak and is it really that dire?
VRANICH: It's very dire. Amtrak is losing so much money it's incredible. These long distance trains that travel across the country, they're so expensive. It's actually cheaper for the government to give those passengers free airline tickets than it is to keep their trains going. So Amtrak has bad trains and they have good trains. What I think the Bush administration is trying to do is cause a major restructuring, so that we can get rid of the ones that are truly hopeless, and resuscitate and improve the ones that we really need, like New York, Washington, LA, San Diego. Those shorter distance routes, that's where we need the trains and so we need a major shakeup here when it come to Amtrak.
CAFFERTY: What is it the Europeans know about rail travel that we can't seem to figure out over here? They don't seem to have these troubles.
VRANICH: Actually, it's an interesting question. Europeans are having the same troubles we are --
CAFFERTY: I withdraw the question. No, go ahead, I'm sorry.
VRANICH: No, that's OK. The Amtrak-style trains in Europe are actually declining in popularity. It's the commuter trains, like the ones that run into New York, Chicago, so forth where there are big increases. And why is this? It's because discount air travel is having same effect in Europe as it's having in the United States. So if we want to learn from Europe, we will begin to discontinue the long distance trains and, once again, beef up the short distance trains, which is where the market is now for trains.
SERWER: Joseph, I just want to first of all compliment you on your tie. It looks a lot like mine. It's very good stuff there. You know, Amtrak is in 48 states. I think it's not in South Dakota and in Wyoming if I'm correct. Where's some of the real boondoggles? My understanding is the train in Texas, 400 people ride the thing the whole year, things like that. Where are some of the real jokes?
VRANICH: Well, the biggest jokes are, for example, there's a train running from Orlando to -- all the way to Los Angeles. And it's so few people riding it that what it amounts to is the entire state of Texas, fewer than 400 people a day ride Amtrak.
SERWER: A day, yeah.
VRANICH: A day. And more people go through one Wal-Mart in half an hour than ride Amtrak in the whole state. Meanwhile -- here's the serious problem -- Amtrak puts million and millions of dollars into useless routes like that and yet they under invest in key facilities like the railroad tunnels in New York that Amtrak owns that handle thousands and thousands of commuters every hour. So it's a crazy system. No company would operate the way Amtrak operates.
LISOVICZ: And it is insane, obviously. Those trains had a place, those trains from, say, Florida to LA, had a place at one time...
SERWER: Before the airplane.
LISOVICZ: Before the airplane, decades ago. So what should be done? You have a unique perspective, having worked for Amtrak. Should it be privatized? Should it be regionalized? Should the states step in? Should the Federal government take over? What's your assessment?
VRANICH: Well, my recommendation is that what we do is devolve trains to regional authorities. For example, the Boston, New York, Washington trains would be much better off being run by a regional authority concerned about that area. The way to do that -- I use the word "privatize" kind of carefully because what I talk about is public/private partnerships, where the government still will need to subsidize trains, because the trains are going to continue to lose money. But as soon as we bring competition in, competition is great. It injects efficiencies. We can have trains out there carrying more people, but at a lower cost to the taxpayer so that means the bad trains go away. The good trains are run by other people, more responsible, more innovative, more imaginative, and we can get better trains on the lines where we really need them in the United States.
CAFFERTY: Is the way to get to the place you're talking about to allow Amtrak to simply go under?
VRANICH: I believe Amtrak eventually needs to disappear. I'm not in favor of action that would cause something for them to disappear immediately, because that could cause a kind of crisis that we want to stay away from. So while I support the Bush administration's desire to replace Amtrak with something better, my desire is to go just a little bit slower in making sure that the Surface Transportation Board, Federal agency, is funded properly to keep the commuter trains running in the states where we really need the trains and the Bush administration is saying, look, we're going to do the right thing. We're going to empower the Surface Transportation Board to do the right thing. And I think the Bush administration is very much on the right track and Amtrak is extremely on the wrong track.
LISOVICZ: We can certainly hope that the administration will work to make some big changes in Amtrak. Joseph Vranich, former Amtrak spokesperson, author of "End of the Line." Thanks so much for joining us.
VRANICH: Glad to be here, thank you.
LISOVICZ: Lots more to come here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, business gets bigger than life with a Howard Hughes biopic up for an Oscar. We'll tell you about the real guy and how he made his money.
And rascally rabbits and Hollywood roles. Find out how these bunnies are cutting your favorite flicks down to 30 seconds flat.
SERWER: "The Aviator" is a leading contender at this weekend's Oscars, nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including best picture. And no matter how many trophies it takes home at the end of the night, the success of the film has put the career and storied personal life of Howard Hughes back in the spotlight. Pat Broeske is the co-author of "Howard Hughes, the Untold Story." She joins us now with a closer look at this legendary tycoon. Pat, welcome. Let me ask you right off the bat, aviation, Hollywood, he did so many things. What's the common thread in his career? PAT BROESKE, AUTHOR, "HOWARD HUGHES, THE UNTOLD STORY": The common thread is Howard Hughes' passion, Howard Hughes' passion and his great obsession for pushing the boundaries, for pushing the boundaries in the sky, for pushing the boundaries in technology, in the desert sands out towards Las Vegas, on the movie screen.
LISOVICZ: Pat, I saw "The Aviator." I thought it was a terrific movie but it also taught me so many things that I didn't know about the man if it's accurate. How would you put him in terms of aviation alone, is he up there with Lindbergh? Just put it in perspective for us.
BROESKE: Well, you know, Howard Hughes actually always felt that he was in the shadow of Charles Lindbergh, which is why he did his own around the world flight in 1938 besting Charles Lindbergh's records. But really, I think in the pantheon of aviation, Howard Hughes is really best known for his audacity, for the spruce goose, which really more or less symbolizes kind of everything that was, you know Howard's passion and, you know, "never say die" spirit. Don't forget, he's also the man who took over TWA and pushed TWA into the jet age. At the time Howard Hughes ran TWA coast-to-coast flights, you know, they were not a fact of everyday life and it was under Hughes that those things happened.
CAFFERTY: What caused him to simply drop out? He had conquered Hollywood. He had conquered business. He'd conquered aviation and then one day he was holed up on the top floor of the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, never to be seen again except by his closest confidants. Bob Mayhew (ph) was running the Vegas empire. His business interests had changed a lot by that time. What transformed him from this outgoing and larger than life man's man, into this -- this recluse, this paranoid, frightened, withdrawn human being, for the last several years of his life?
BROESKE: You know, the motion picture alludes to it, but never really completely explains what happened to Hughes. And, in fact, he suffered from something that was not diagnosed in his lifetime, so he really didn't understand what was going on. He suffered from something called OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. And it really is a disorder that they study today you know that people can get help for. But at the time, Hughes did not know what was wrong with him. And so as a result of thinking sometimes that he was cracking up, that there was something wrong with him, he kind of formed his own asylum, if you will. That's one of the reasons he would close himself away from the world. And toward the end in addition to his OCD, he was involved in some very, you know, some serious dependence on medications, on drugs, and that was as a result of a 1946 plane crash he was in, which is spectacularly recreated in the movie.
SERWER: Pat, leaving aside this later period in his life where he sort of lost it, does he remind you of anyone today or anyone else in American history, any other entrepreneur or businessman or leader?
BROESKE: I have from time to time seen him compared to Bill Gates on some levels. However, Bill Gates never that, I know of --
SERWER: Not as flamboyant, come on.
BROESKE: Yeah, he's -- you can fall asleep listening to and talking with Bill Gates, I think. Whereas Howard Hughes was enigmatic. He was colorful. You never knew what was going to happen with Howard Hughes. But also, he was an adventurer. And Bill Gates never climbed in the cockpit of an airplane and set a land speed record. And so in many ways, Hughes is, he's an anomaly. He's an American original. There really is no one quite like Howard Hughes.
LISOVICZ: Pat, would Howard Hughes be able to achieve all that in the times we live in now? He really was putting his family's company at risk, to say the least, to do some of these adventures. He was spending just money hand over fist on his films, on his aviation projects. With all the scrutiny that we have with the media now, do you think that would have inhibited his exploits?
BROESKE: That is a great point that you make. I think it would be very tough for Howard Hughes to lead the kind of life today that he led. However, just think, what if Howard Hughes had gotten help for his obsessive compulsive disorder? What if Howard Hughes had been able to take advantage of the computer age, which really -- it was just on the horizon when Howard Hughes passed away because his mind kind of operate like a computer. So I sometimes wonder what would have happened, you know if Hughes had been able to take advantage of certain things. Because what a mind. What -- you know, an unequaled mind.
LISOVICZ: Well, he's a fascinating figure, no doubt and you chronicle him in your book "Howard Hughes, The Untold Story." Pat Broeske, thanks so much for joining us.
BROESKE: My pleasure.
LISOVICZ: There's more to come on IN THE MONEY. Up next, beating the bootleggers by thinking like one. Find out how Warner Brothers is taking on video pirates at the cash register. If you've got something to say about a story on the show, don't keep it to yourself. Drop us a line at this e-mail address, email@example.com.
CAFFERTY: The DVD market of course is one of Hollywood's most profitable cash cows. But movie piracy still cuts deeply into profits, especially in places like China. Allen Wastler is here now with a look at a new strategy to fight piracy as well as the fun site of the week. Huge problem, lots and lots of money.
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: Huge problem. They've tried all sorts of ways. You send the police in. You sue them and do all this stuff. Well, now Warner Brothers, corporate cousins of ours, trying something a little bit different. What they're doing is they're going to release some of their hottest 125 titles, put them into the Chinese market, but price them down from where they usually do, OK, take a little hit so they're sort of price competitive with the pirated copies that are out there. It will be about $2.65 a DVD and it's a stripped down one. It doesn't get all the little extras. SERWER: Can I get one of those?
WASTLER: Go to China.
SERWER: The fly over, the cost of the ticket --
WASTLER: Pirated copies typically cost about a buck. The difference is, one of the main ways that they do the piracy is they take the little video camera into --
CAFFERTY: The quality would be much better.
WASTLER: You're not going to get the guy standing up, going to get popcorn in the middle of the DVD and the noise and what not and they're hoping that that will put them on a price competitive level.
SERWER: The same thing happened with the music business. They had to lower prices. You can buy music online. It's cheaper to fight piracy, right?
WASTLER: What I call the Napster effect. Once it became easy to download, so that any dummy could do it and you're only paying a buck a song, it sort of took it away from the old peer to peer basis thing (ph). Now here's the danger with that. Over in China, if you make the legit DVDs available, well then maybe they -- oh, so I don't have to go into the movie theater anymore. Now I can just burn it straight and then I'll give you a good copy for a buck and you're still back where you started from. So we'll see how it works. All those things sort of trial and error. It's a new -- brave new sector.
CAFFERTY: Let's go to my favorite part of this program.
WASTLER: We got the Oscars coming up. So we said, let's go back to the bunnies. Jack Nicholson, you think of him with Oscars, right, popular favorite. Here you go folks, "The Shining" by the bunnies.
WASTLER: It's so much quicker and easier.
SERWER: It's quicker. It wasn't quite as scary.
CAFFERTY: All right, thanks, Allen. Come up next on IN THE MONEY, it's time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. You can send us an e-mail right now. We're firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAFFERTY: Time now to read your answers to our question of the week about whether you think the drug companies are more interested in profit or healing. Vicky wrote, the drug companies seem to be rushing to sell us drugs before they are completely tested. Just listen to the TV ads. They warn about how each new wonder drug can cause everything from internal bleeding to breathing loss.
Nicole wrote, profit is not the only motive for the drug companies. Remember that they spend a lot of money on research knowing full well that most of their projects will never make a marketable product or profit. They also have to be able to pay to get the best research chemists to continue working for them.
And my favorite is this from Richard who wrote, I don't know if profits are the only goal, but I do know that I use anti-depressants. They make me impotent, so now I have to buy Viagra. Does this make any sense?" No, Richard it probably doesn't.
SERWER: No, not really.
CAFFERTY: But we hope you're feeling better. Now for next week's e-mail question of the week. It's this, what do you think is the best way for the United States to deal with the insurgents in Iraq? Send your answers to inthemoney@CNN.com. And you should also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney which is where you'll find the address for our fun site of the week, oh those bunnies. Thanks for joining us for this edition of program. My thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer and money.com managing editor Allen Wastler. Join us tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern time when we'll talk about the U.S. relationship with Europe and whether European dislike for your President Bush is really the biggest issue dividing us. That's tomorrow, 3:00 Eastern time. Hope to see you then.
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